Sunday, July 17, 2011


I have just been watching the film Creation on BBC iPlayer, and found the portrayal of Emma Darwin a bit too orthodox, considering that she was a Unitarian (though of course Unitarianism was different then to what it's like now), so I decided to Google for background information. Although the family attended the local Anglican church, Emma made them turn around when the Nicene Creed was recited, because it is Trinitarian. She also enjoyed discussing evolution with her husband, although she believed in creation.

It seems really bizarre now that millions of ordinary people actually literally believed in God creating the Earth in 7 days and all that.

The film also seems to me to have made Darwin's inner struggles a bit too anguished and laudanum-fuelled. It's true that he feared the impact that publication of the theory of evolution would have on the world, but it did not abolish trust, hope, love and altruism, as he is portrayed in the film as fearing.

And why wasn't the film called Evolution? (I suppose because less Americans would have gone to see it...)


girl wanderer said...

i thought it was wonderful, Darwin is a very appealing and interesting character. I agree with what you say about Emma.I think the concept of liberal religious faith is difficult for anyone else to grasp. She seemed a bit cold and reserved too, given they had such a close and happy relationship.

Darwin did have an ongoing and mysterious illness with physical and psychological symptoms, so the delusions weren't just laudanum-fuelled.

Cat Vincent said...

It wasn't called Evolution due to the shitty SF comedy of that name...

Cat Vincent said...

It wasn't called Evolution, due to the shite SF 'comedy' of that name in the '90s.

Cody said...

I had the same impression about Emma Darwin, watching the movie; while it was on, I checked Cliff Reed's "Darwin's Unitarian Connections", which highlights the family and social links he had. Emma wrote in a letter to Charles that "honest, conscientious doubt can not be a sin" - a far cry from how she was portrayed. I feel sorrow knowing that it reinforces such an incorrect characterisation, perhaps only for a "conflict", which is unnecessary.

I think the conflict was generated not out of historical fact, but from our current vantage: we exist in a culture devoid of mystery, where everything has is quantifiable. Scripture and scientific analysis must therefore make quantifiable assertions. When they conflict, one must win out. Fundamentalist Christians are doing themselves no favour by siding with this philosophy.

Anonymous said...

We watched it with the kiddiwinks and all enjoyed. I guess Emma was made a bit more wooden for dramatic effect, I get where you're coming from though.

It seems really bizarre now that millions of ordinary people STILL actually literally believe in God creating the Earth in 7 days and all that.